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Airbiquity, a global leader in connected car services, has announced episode one of a four-part webinar series revealing new research on how consumers use connected car services. Andrew Hart, Director at SBD, will join Scott Frank, Airbiquity Vice President of Marketing, to highlight the industry's largest consumer adoption challenges and discuss how the automotive market can evolve to capture the desired customer satisfaction and business results.

"What's Standing Between Your Organization and a Successful Connected Car Services Program?"

When: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 2:00pm EST / 11:00am PST

What: Since the introduction of connected car services, the automotive industry has faced significant challenges—both technically and organizationally—for engaging consumers in connected cars. During this webinar, SBD and Airbiquity will present several connected car service case studies and new research insights to increase understanding about the issues impacting consumer adoption rates of connected car services, and how the industry can collectively overcome them.

Who: Episode one will feature:

• Andrew Hart, Director, SBD – Andrew is responsible for setting the direction of SBD's research efforts and communicating key findings to customers and the broader industry. Prior to his current position, Andrew served SBD as a Project Engineer, Senior Specialist, and Head of the Advanced Research Division. He joined SBD in 2005.

• Scott Frank, Vice President of Marketing, Airbiquity – Scott is responsible for Airbiquity's marketing initiatives including brand management, product marketing, demand generation, analyst and press relations, and sales enablement. He is a seasoned marketing professional with expertise in developing and managing global and regional marketing programs for large enterprise, medium, and small size companies.

Where: To register, visit: What's Standing Between Your Organization and a Successful Connected Car Services Program Episode two of the four-part webinar series will be held in June 2015.

Omega Research and Development Technologies, Inc. recently updated OmegaCarLink.com with a new look. The new website now has all of the information you would need for the CarLink-3G and the new INTL CarLink-SMS including links to all the available apps and utilities.  Also installation and operation instructions are now available for download. 

The new http://omegacarlink.com/ website is easy to use and is mobile compatible.

For information on becoming an Omega Dealer in the US, email us at //936A4370-33CB-4114-A781-1BD42BDE1E75/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/HAYBZWL5/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." style="color:purple;text-decoration:underline">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

09 Feb

5 Business Myths That Used To Be True

Monday, 09 February 2015

Entrepreneur -- Technology is changing the business world and unlike previous years, we now have three generations working side by side with each other: the Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.  As digital natives, Millennials understand and use technology in a way that has created a seismic shift in corporate America – and also how we conduct business.

Whether you are a seasoned executive or a young entrepreneur looking for business management advice, you need to know the new rules of the workplace.

Here are five commonly believed business lessons that are now myths:

1. You need to pay your dues.

Historically, new college graduates were tasked with chores like getting coffee for executives and sitting quietly in meetings for the sole purpose of taking notes. Now, with the rapid influx of new technology, young employees are a huge asset. Yes, someone still needs to handle keeping the spreadsheets up to date and preparing conference rooms for big meetings, but don’t overlook these new employees when it comes to idea sharing and out-of-the-box thinking. If they feel that their ideas are taken seriously, they’ll often surprise you with a fresh take on age-old issues and will be motivated to work harder and longer. Many young adults are already starting and running their own businesses; the idea that you can’t be successful without a few years of slaving away at dreadful tasks is no longer true.

Related: The Truth Behind 12 Common Startup Funding Myths

2. Don’t talk money.

The new workforce is not shy when it comes to sharing how much money they make and gender-equality issues are being brought up in the media more than ever. If you pay your employees fairly and explain why each benefit policy is in place, your workforce will have nothing to complain about. Make sure your company is an even playing field that rewards great work and is an open environment where employees feel comfortable chatting with HR.

3. There’s no place for social media at work.

Can you believe that some companies still block Facebook from their office computers? The new workforce is about trust; trust that employees will use Internet access responsibly and will only share what is appropriate in a work setting. In fact, there are many benefits to having social media in the office. For example, encouraging employees to share company successes over social media is great for brand management and recruiting. Social networks are also excellent for professional networking.

Read more here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242673 

Entrepreneur -- If you Google “daily habits of successful people” you’ll find almost every business-focused media outlet represented in the results. But if you’re looking for a guaranteed roadmap to success, don’t get excited just yet. If you read all of those articles, or even a few of them, you'll soon realize that successful people have a wide range of daily habits.

Some say you have to rise early, some sleep until noon then work from their bed for another hour. Some say to get the toughest thing out of the way first, some start their day in an easy flow of reading over coffee and don’t “eat the frog” until later. Some plan out their day the night before, some start their day by devising a plan. Some hit the jogging trail first thing, some barely take time for a stretch before hitting social media and email.

So how are any of us supposed to figure out which daily habits are critical to success, and which are personal preference and idiosyncrasy?

If you take a look at all the different lists of habits, routines, principles and priorities among successful entrepreneurs from Ben Franklin to Mark Cuban you’ll find these three universal success factors.

They spend time getting to know themselves.

If you know who they are, chances are they devote a lot of their daily practice to knowing themselves better than you can even imagine. Successful people are self-aware on multiple levels.

They know their energy patterns, so they know how much sleep is optimal. They know when they get their best rest they are at their best when they are awake. They know what fuel their body needs, and what kind of exercise it takes to feel the way they want to feel. They know what environments they need to be creative and productive, and they know the difference between those two states.

They know their priorities, too, and they know that all of their decisions must start with the highest level of their vision, mission or purpose. Benjamin Franklin’s documented daily schedule starts each day with a question; “What good shall I do this day?” Steve Jobs said in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005 that he spent 33 years asking the same question every morning; “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

Bottom line, no matter how many articles, interviews or opinions you read, you’ll find that successful people are always tuned in to the one most critical success factor in their business -- themselves.

They spend time improving themselves.

Speaking of being tuned in to themselves, successful people know that to increase their net worth they must increase their personal worth. They’ve mastered the personal SWOTT analysis and they consistently invest in themselves.

It’s no secret that successful people read. They read story books, they read how-to books, they read news, they read industry articles. They read to improve their knowledge, their mind-set, even their mood.

But they do more than read. Successful people study. They study trends in their industry and outside of their industry, they study things that interest them and, most of all, they study people.

Read more HERE.

14 Jan

Reporter's Notebook: 2015 International CES

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

After another innovation-fueled year, the 2015 International CES again proved why it's the place to be for tech geeks everywhere. What's more surprising these days is the firm foothold the show has in the automotive landscape. With the race for the connected car (and connected life for that matter) in full swing, both the OEMs and aftermarket are hustling to market any products they can to jump start their revenues in the medium. Aside from this, the show also featured a variety of impressive offerings from familiar companies looking to jumpstart their own interests for both consumers and retailers in 12-volt. Here are some highlights from this year's show:

- Kicker is releasing a line that is exclusive to 12-volt retailers, boxing out the big boxes and online sellers like Crutchfield, to show its support of independent retailers. The high-end Q-Class line will include the IQ-Series of intelligent power amplifiers and the top-end QS-Series component speakers, designed to fit into more factory hole locations than before. 

- VOXX Electronics has added a new line of in-car electronics to its already packed lineup of products with the Baby On Board child car seat sensor. The device requires a 5-minute install by the owner, and utilizes a Bluetooth proximity sensor that alerts the driver when they leave the car via a key fob beeper. The device will be available this summer for $59.95. 

- The connected car is officially in full play in the aftermarket as both Pioneer and Kenwood have introduced head units that feature Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility. Pioneer has released its second generation NEX in-dash receivers, which all include CarPlay, while three models include Android Auto. Kenwood has introduced a successor to its DNN991HD connected receiver, which now includes updated mapping software by Garmin™, parking guides for a connected rear-view camera and better source multitasking.

- A trend to watch by several companies is the emergence of Bluetooth remote controls for powersports vehicles. MTX announced the MUDBTRC, designed to allow Bluetooth music streaming from most Bluetooth enabled devices directly to an amplifier, eliminating the need to install a source unit.

For more information on the products described above, and more detail on the latest from CES, check out our February issue of Mobile Electronics, coming next month. 

23 Oct

Chart Goals to Create Road Map to Success

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Entrepreneur -- Many people suffer from being rational dreamers. They want to achieve a big dream but hold themselves back by being risk averse. They don't want to disrupt the status quo and play things safe. 

To coax themselves out of their comfort zones, people learn to setgoals. I consider the process of goal setting to be like arranging checkpoints along the way to a desired end. Setting and meeting small goals can serve as a thermometer check on progress, measuring advancement and indicating an overall plan's viability.

Approach goal setting like creating a customized road map to chart your success. Think about when you take a really long road trip with your friends. Most often, you start off knowing the destination, but since road trips can be fairly long, making pit stops along the way is necessary.

Before venturing out, you might decide to stop a quarter of the way along for food, then at the halfway point for gas, at the two-thirds mark to stretch and perhaps 100 miles beyond that for more gas.  

You’re meeting smaller, more immediate goals that build on your efforts to reach the final destination.

Create a personalized road map for arriving at your desired destination by setting the following types of goals: immediate, intermediate and stretch goals. 

Related: Create a Personal Business Plan That You'll Really Use

1. Set a stretch goal.

Start by developing a stretch goals, a long-term objective that will take years to accomplish. Determine your stretch goal first because this choice will influence the selection of intermediate and immediate goals.

A stretch goal should be big. Some stretch goals are more specific than others. One person's specific goal might be “to become the CEO of Google.” Another individual's vaguer stretch goal would be “to produce a national television show.” An extremely vague goal would be “to work in the fashion industry.”

It's OK, though, to leave room for interpretation.

Be as specific as possible and allow yourself to adjust a goal. Once you establish a stretch goal, you can sketch out checkpoints along the way.

Read more here.

20 Oct

Editorial Correction

Monday, 20 October 2014

Editorial Correction: On page 34 of the September 2014 issue of Mobile Electronics, one of our writers wrote a comment about Compustar’s lack of contact availability to its customers. Compustar has responded by explaining that direct lines are not available on the website to better help them focus on their vendors and to supply the highest level of customer service. We apologize for the error and will do our best to avoid such wording in future issues.

In response, the company submitted a statement regarding its support for vendors:

“Compustar has launched an easy-to-use support terminal at support.compustar.com that gears towards answering the most basic and most advanced questions regarding our products. The support terminal also features a ticketing system that allows us to receive customer inquiries, even outside of office hours. 

Our toll-free number is (888) 820-3690 and is primarily reserved to supporting our retail and distribution partners. We pride ourselves on providing excellent installer support, and are more than willing to walk our installers through even the most complicated install jobs. 

Dealers who are interested in learning more about Compustar can call us at our Toll-Free number or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about joining our award-winning team.”

14 May

Q&A: Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Brand new car audio company, Audiofrog, is emerging at a time when big box stores and online sellers are slashing prices, in-turn making it more difficult for brick-and-mortar shops to compete. To explain the rationale for starting a new brand at this time, Andy Wehmeyer, president and CEO of this new high-end audio brand, sat down with Mobile Electronics for the June issue. Below is an excerpt from that interview:

ME: Tell us about the new brand. What inspired you to create it?

Wehmeyer: I spent the last 20 years working for a huge audio company. At the beginning, it was an absolute dream job. But after 20 years of getting a pretty good handle on the car audio business I saw an opportunity to do something that I don’t think anyone else is doing in a global kind of way.

There are global brands that are managing themselves in all of the markets like Harman, Pioneer, and JVC. While there are others, like Focal and Audison, they are primarily European-focused brands and they go to market in countries outside their home market exclusively through distributors. That can be a pretty good model if just moving product is your objective, but often that prevents dealers from getting proper training and receiving proper tech support. It can also lead to indiscriminate distribution, which destroys profitability for everyone.

What we’re after are the best specialty dealers in markets all over the world who are hungry for great-sounding products, straightforward tech support and involvement from the people who design and develop the products. It’s all about helpful support for specialists who cater to car lovers, car audio lovers, and enthusiasts everywhere.

Gary, Grizz and I have been in this business for almost 30 years. There’s a world full of installers who were exactly where we were 25-30 years ago. There will always be new guys who are learning their craft and we think there’s an opportunity to do premium business and give back some of what we were fortunate enough to learn from past industry veterans. There aren’t a lot of brands left who are providing great training. From my perspective, we’re the new industry vets. It’s our turn to be mentors and there’s a significant business opportunity out there.

ME: Why now? What makes this an ideal time or situation to bring a new brand to the marketplace?         

Wehmeyer: As a product guy, I was duped by financial managers into thinking I didn’t have the acumen to be a business manager. What I discovered later was that there’s a world full of financial managers that think managing a business is the same no matter who the customer is. What I now know is that this is absolutely not the case. The real value is in deep expertise and years of experience and contacts—that’s the stuff you can’t buy at business school.

An MBA is pretty important to get yourself in the door at a major corporation; if you want to be a business manager, that’s valuable. But in an enthusiast business like car audio, where people spend an inordinate amount of money on products they love, the real skill you need to be successful is a connection to the customer, experience in the market, and technical expertise with regard to products and their application. MBA-style management by spreadsheet is killing big brands as they focus on cutting services, making me-too products cheaper and battling for market share at the low end through price reductions in the big boxes and online. All of that is what made me decide this was the right time for us to do this, coupled with what I see as the two biggest markets in the world, Europe and the U.S., reverting back to what will have to be a focus on enthusiasts. 

ME: What is the product rollout map for the next year?

Wehmeyer: We’re going to launch a series of high-end speakers and subs at KnowledgeFest and another line shortly thereafter. We’ll also do amps and signal processing once the launch of the speakers is underway. All Audiofrog products are developed from the ground up and that takes time and money. There are many possibilities, but right now we’re focused on launching our speakers.

ME: Do you have a sales network in place?

Wehmeyer: No sales network in place yet. We’ve got some commitments from customers all over the world, pending samples and demos. There’s lots of interest.

ME: Are you going to sell through reps or distribution?

Wehmeyer: We’re going to sell direct in the US and through distributors in other markets. It’s really important to us that no matter the method by which we deliver product, that all dealers have access to the three of us for help and support. There won’t be any distributors in the US.

ME: What is the company's Internet sales policy?

Wehmeyer: We want to make sure people all over the country have a way to buy Audiofrog products. An online presence is an important part of that. There’s only going to be one online seller and they’ll provide high-end customer support that is also available by phone. We’re looking for the best partners and that’s no different when it comes to online business. 

**Be sure to check out the June issue of Mobile Electronics to read the rest of the interview.**

Today from 4pm to 5pm Eastern Standard Time, Solomon Daniels, Editor-in-Chief of Mobile Electronics magazine, will field your questions on participating in the 2014 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards on the Facebook Advisory Group. The page is located at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1457574061132022.

If you’re not a member, submit a request on the page and you will be accepted to participate in the discussion.

“This year we’ve had the help of dedicated industry professionals to make the process for our Industry Awards better, yet we know that participants will still have questions,” said Daniels. “The group meeting today is the best time to answer those questions, and the answers will be archived for others who visit later.”

The Top 50/100 nominations opens today. Visit http://bit.ly/MEAwardsOpen for rules, guidelines and submission requirements.

Submit your nomination video at https://www.hightail.com/u/2014IndustryAwards by May 19.

In Car Experts announced it has secured an agreement for Stillwater Designs of Stillwater, Okla., manufacturer of the KICKER brand, to join its ranks as a vendor member. The new partnership is the first since the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) acquired In Car Experts in February, and it expands the number of product lines and programs available to In Car Experts retail members.

“We are very excited to have the originators of the KICKER brand as a partner with In Car Experts,” said Chris Cook, president of MERA. “Stillwater Designs has shown the ability to maintain its Unilateral Minimum Advertised Price (UMAP) policy across its brands and channels, thus protecting and retaining profit margins for its retailers. The company’s proven dedication to its retail core sets the stage for delivering high value to In Car Experts retail members.”

In Car Experts retail members will now receive benefits when selling the Kicker and SoundGate brands, which target entry level to enthusiast consumers who want premium quality audio reproduction. Product categories include amplifiers, speakers, signal processors, vehicle-specific enclosures and integration solutions, in addition to the fast-growing powersports and marine audio categories. Key retailer benefits include product and shipping discounts, demo unit programs and volume incentive rebates.

“Stillwater Designs is very interested in increasing the number of relationships it has with elite-level retailers in their respective markets,” stated Jeff Peters, director of domestic sales for Stillwater Designs. “In Car Experts delivers a best-in-market customer experience when presenting our brand.”

About In Car Experts
In Car Experts is a group of the nation’s best mobile electronics retailers supported by vendor partners who are committed to the success of the independent specialist. Working as a multimillion dollar collective, In Car Experts is able to provide members with proven national marketing and enhanced vendor programs that are only available when functioning as part of a larger group. For more information, call (877) 777-4ICE or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Stillwater Designs
KICKER Performance Audio products, a division of Stillwater Designs and Audio, Inc.®, are available for the mobile and home audio aftermarket at authorized retailers worldwide, and also as original equipment for automobile manufacturers. For more information on KICKER or Livin’ Loud®, call (800) 256-5425 or visit the brand website at www.kicker.com. 

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TOP 50 RETAILERS AND TOP 100 INSTALLERS

CLICK HERE TO VOTE!

Hello All,

It’s Time! This is the official notification that the 2014 Industry Awards are underway.

This blog is intended to outline the process and rules for the awards, starting from selecting the Top 100 Installers and Top 50 Retailers, all the way to selecting the final winners. Those winners will be announced and celebrated at the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) KnowledgeFest event in Dallas, August 16-19.

For those of you who don’t know, The Industry Awards recognize the top performers in our industry. At the retail level, we identify the Top 100 Installers and Top 50 Retailers. Each of these groups narrows down to the Top 12, and finally we select winners from this group. This year, we’ve made changes to the Retailer of the Year awards. There will be one winner and one runner-up award given in two categories: single store and chain. The Installer of the Year award remains unchanged.

And there are other awards as well. The Trusted Tech award goes to the individual installation expert who is not only an excellent troubleshooter and detail-oriented worker, but has also earned the recognition and respect of their peers. The Rep of the Year and Rep Firm of the Year recognize sales representatives who go beyond the transaction to provide support and encouragement to retailers. Distributor of the Year (new for 2014) and Expediter of the Year award the top performers in these sales channels. And our Vendor of the Year awards celebrate the hard-working staffs of our suppliers and manufacturers in several different categories.

Before we delve more into the details, I want to first thank the members of the Mobile Electronics Advisory Group for their time and valued input. My goal for the group was to streamline the rules and policies of the awards so that we can present a fair and transparent process to the industry. The guidelines you see below are the result of their dedication.

Good Luck to All!

Solomon Daniels, Editor-in-Chief

 

2014 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards – Rules and Guidelines

Retailer Qualifications:

A publicly accessible, licensed brick-and-mortar or mobile business that has a dedicated mobile electronics department with full sales, retail and installation support. The business must have been open for a minimum of two years, regardless of location. (Home-based business must meet the same criteria and be licensed by local municipality to operate a mobile electronics retail business in its location.)

Installer Qualifications:

Installation specialists with a minimum 5 years of experience under a licensed business (company or sole proprietor) who are gainfully employed as a professional installer. Installation must be their primary duty within the business.

 

Vendors, Expediters, Distributors, Reps and Rep Firm Awards

Qualifications:

A vendor, manufacturer's representative, distributor or expediter that produces, sells or supports products in the mobile electroncis industry.

Vendor Awards:

Expediter of the Year

Rep of the Year

Rep Firm of the Year

Distributor of the Year

Top Vendor - Vendor – Autosound / Video

Top Vendor – Security / Convenience / Safety

Top Vendor – Power / Installation Components

Top Vendor – Processing and Integration

 


 

June 3: Voting to Select the Top 12 Begins

Individuals who vote are divided into two categories:
Consumers / Enthusiasts – people who are customers, family members, friends or competitors and are NOT employees in the mobile electronics industry in a professional capacity.

Industry professionals – people who work for an industry manufacturer, supplier, distributor, affiliate company or a retail location.

Because this is primarily an industry award, the value of an industry vote will be higher than that of a consumer vote:

  • If a candidate gets fewer than 5 industry votes, the consumer votes do not count.
  • If a candidate gets 6 to 9 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/5 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 10 to 19 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/4 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 20 to 29 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/3 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 30 to 39 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/2 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 40 or more industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 3/4 of one industry vote each.
  • Each person may select one retailer and one installer. Voters must supply contact information for verification purposes, and IP addresses are monitored to reduce the possibility of fraudulent voting. (Multiple store employees may vote from the same computer / IP address.)

    June 20: LAST DAY to VOTE!


     

    August 18: All winners announced at KnowledgeFest

    Errors and omissions:
    If, throughout this process, we determine that there is an error or more detail / clarification is required, we will publicly announce the adjustment via Hotwire, our email newsletter. 

    02 May

    Moneyball and Positive Reinforcement

    Friday, 02 May 2014

    Since it’s both baseball season and a time when many retailers are hiring seasonal staff, I thought it would be a good moment to discuss an important topic. In a baseball club, much like any workplace, a certain balance must be maintained, not just for players to do their jobs and play to their full potential, but also for the players to get along with each other and with management.

    In the film Moneyball, Brad Pitt stars as real-life Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, who in 2002 was tasked with getting a low-budget, hand-to-mouth ball club to compete with big-budget teams like the New York Yankees. To do this, he had to think outside the box financially and do something socially that he had never done in four previous seasons with the club: talk to his players.

    With all the hustle and bustle involved in running a retail shop, it’s understandable that an owner might be too busy to take a minute to get feedback from employees. Much like a baseball team, a staff requires the attention of management, but in an encouraging, rather than critical, way. A recent interview on Forbes.com with John Kotter, chief innovation officer at leadership strategy firm Kotter International, made clear that fear in the workplace acts like a “burning platform,” forcing employees to react. But that reaction style of management only works for so long, until employee energy and enthusiasm starts to wear out.  

    “The reality is there are real risks associated with this negative stuff. People may jump off the platform, but they get tired, or they break an arm, to play out that metaphor. What we’re finding is that psychologists are coming out and saying that the positive stuff will maintain motivation over time much stronger and better than the negative stuff,” Kotter said. “Sure, the negative can get you going. You see a bullet coming at you, boom! You’ll get off of your chair. But in terms of maintaining energy and motivation over a couple of years, somebody just running from bullets doesn’t work.”

    In Moneyball, tension in the clubhouse is visible when the team is losing. Players either keep to themselves and look at it as only a job, or they are unruly, joyfully dancing on tables to music, even after a loss.

    That tension seems to come from the lack of positive reinforcement from Beane, and from the fact that the only interactions the players have with him are in the form of yelling when they lose, or silence due to his absence from the clubhouse most of the time. To clarify, positive reinforcement is the act of presenting a pleasant stimulus to entice a person to repeat a desirable action.

    To the customer, it’s obvious when employees are unhappy. Energy levels are low, their mannerisms and speech patterns are less enthusiastic, and the work itself tends to suffer. Likewise, customers can tell when employees are happy.

    Aside from the standard monetary compensation and benefits like a 401K, medical and dental insurance, rewarding good behavior can be easy and inexpensive, according to an article by two professors at the Harvard Business Review.

    The article states that employees who strive to create a better future for themselves are, in their words, “thriving.” These employees aren’t just content in their jobs; they are proactive, engaged and highly energized. This type of employee was found to demonstrate a 16 percent better performance than their peers, and they were 32 percent more committed to the organization. They also missed considerably less work and had fewer doctor visits.

    Whatever your method, knowing the strengths and improvement areas of your staff is vital for gauging what they can and can’t do. When you do need them to push, remember to reinforce their hard work with a reward, whether it’s a verbal compliment, a high-five, a simple thank you, or a form of compensation.

    When Billy Beane finally discovered how useful interacting with his players was to their performance and overall happiness, he visited the clubhouse more often, spoke to individuals about specific improvements they could make, and formed strong working relationships with as many as he could. Doing this in your shop might just result in a metaphorical home run. 

    Near-field communication trials at some Best Buy and 7-Eleven stores are ending, as the retailers haven't seen a payoff for the costs involved in enabling the technology. The two retailers have announced that they will be shutting down their near-field communications capabilities in their retail locations, pointing to further struggles for NFC-based mobile payments.

    NFC has been weak to take off as a mobile payment technology despite the efforts of Google Wallet and Isis. Best Buy and 7-Eleven are realizing that it is not worth the cost for them, while at the same time hinting at the possibility of branded plays for their own mobile payment solutions.

    “NFC was enabled at some 7-Eleven locations several years ago,” said Margaret Chabris, director of corporate communications at 7-Eleven, Dallas. “As these older PIN pads have been replaced/upgraded, we have chosen not to invest to enable NFC. This decision was made based on several factors, but it is difficult to build the business case given low customer acceptance, transaction costs and other factors.

    “There is not much difference between tapping or swiping a card,” she said. “For various reasons NFC-based mobile payments options have yet to gain traction, and NFC provides no real benefit to the customer over other less costly options.

    Read more here: http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/nfc-takes-another-blow-as-7-eleven-best-buy-shut-it-down

    Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of small business owners said new technologies will offer a bigger return on their investment than new employees (28 percent) in 2014, according to a survey by office supply specialist Brother International, in partnership with Score, a mentoring organization for small businesses.

    The survey also indicated that while the state of the economy is still top of mind for many Americans, the economy isn’t creating as much stress for small business owners.

    For the first time in five years, stress levels are much lower, with just 42 percent of small business owners reporting a high level of stress about the current economic climate, down significantly from the 58 percent who felt high levels of stress in 2013.

    Previous years’ surveys showed a majority feeling high stress levels in 2012 (52 percent), 2011 (52 percent) and 2010 (51 percent).

    "Our survey shows that while small business owners understand the value of new technologies, they are still a bit overwhelmed and struggle with choosing the right time to adopt them to have the greatest impact on their business," John Wandishin, vice president of marketing for Brother, said in a statement. "This is one of the reasons Brother is committed to developing printers, all-in-ones and scanners that integrate with mobile technologies and cloud-based services."

    Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, top the list (41 percent) of the technologies small business owners find necessary to run their business. Respondents also named Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools (32 percent), social technologies (21 percent) and cloud services (15 percent) as necessary to their business.

    Read more: http://www.eweek.com/small-business/small-businesses-turn-to-new-technologies-to-boost-growth.html/

    A new report focused on the accessorization of utility task vehicles (UTVs, also known as side-by-sides) reveals that approximately 670,000 UTV models were sold in the United States in 2010-2012. Released by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the 62-page report provides auto accessory businesses with an understanding of the needs and purchase habits of UTV owners and aids in their marketing, sales and product development efforts.

    “This is the first time we have done such extensive research into the powersports market,” said Gavin Knapp, SEMA senior manager of market research. “This report validates the belief many have had that there are great opportunities in the powersports market, and furthermore, that there are many similarities with the automotive aftermarket.”

    The number of automotive accessory businesses branching off into the powersports market has increased in recent years. A dedicated powersports area was added to the SEMA Show floor in 2009.

    “One of the ways companies grow their businesses is by expanding into related markets,” said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA VP of events and communications. “Buyers at the SEMA Show have increasingly expressed an interest in powersports products, particularly those already selling trucks and SUV products.”

    The “Powersports: UTV Accessorization” report is designed to help businesses identify target consumers, expand their customer base, develop strategic messages and marketing campaigns, as well as assess the market potential. Among the report’s findings:

    - About 82% of UTV owners have, or plan to purchase, upgrades to their UTV.
    - Three segments of UTVs provide different accessorization opportunities for owners.
    - Accessory decisions are made early, with most purchases occurring within the first three months.
    - Modifications to UTVs are usually geared towards enhancing its overall functionality.
    - The average accessorizer spends about $1,700 outfitting his/her UTV.
    - Three out of four UTV owners also own a pickup truck and often accessorize their truck for towing the UTV.

    The “Powersports: UTV Accessorization” report is one of many market research reports that SEMA offers to help members make informed and strategic business decisions. Members may download a copy of the report at no cost at www.sema.org/utvreport.

    For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909/610-2030, or visit www.sema.org or www.enjoythedrive.com.

    Mobile Electronics magazine was named one of five finalists for the 63rd Annual MAGGIE Awards by the Western Publishing Association (WPA), in recognition of excellence among publishing and media professionals.

    The monthly publication, which covers the automotive mobile electronics technology industry, is up for Best Trade Magazine in the categories of business, finance, management and retail. The winner will be announced during an awards banquet on May 2 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport.

    “We are honored to be a finalist during our 30th anniversary for Mobile Electronics magazine,” stated Chris Cook, president of Mobile Electronics Retailers Association which owns the publication. “The Mobile Electronics team has made great strides in transforming the publication into a must read education and information resource for the mobile electronics industry.”

    WPA said it believes recognition is the best way to honor achievement. For more than 60 years, it has bestowed awards of excellence to deserving individuals and companies whose work is deemed “The Best in the West” in a wide variety of publishing categories.

    The non-profit business association based in Westlake Village, Calif., is dedicated to the advancement of the media publishing industry in the western United States. Founded in 1951, its primary mission is to provide continuing education to the media publishing industry through seminars, conferences, roundtables and partnering with other groups and associations to offer online audio and video conferences.

    The magazine is available online at www.me-mag.com.

    For more information, visit www.merausa.org or call (800) WHY-MERA.

    Global automotive leather leader Katzkin and Tint World, the foremost window tinting and automotive styling retail franchise, have joined forces to create a new choice for total vehicle transformation. Together, Katzkin and Tint World bring more than 60 years of experience to the retail world. This partnership creates a full-service, one-stop approach to vehicle personalization that includes a complete cloth to leather interior transformation within a 24-hour installation timeframe. Katzkin will be available in 36 Tint World franchises throughout the country with an expected expansion into 45 Tint World franchises in the U.S., then will move into their International operations by year end. The alliance opens a new channel for consumers to upgrade their vehicles with the affordable luxury of a new leather interior, while further customizing their ride through other interior and exterior enhancements at the same time and same facility.

    “There’s an enormous synergy between our two brands,” said Brooks Mayberry, CEO for Katzkin. “Beyond our reputation for service and quality, we’ve based our differentiation within the industry on establishing a new benchmark for automotive leather design. Katzkin offers an average of eight unique leather design options for each vehicle, giving the consumer choices that enable vehicle personalization,” said Mayberry. “Tint World has a stellar reputation for providing its customers every additional aspect of personalization, both inside and out, and we’re anxious to be part of that solution.”

    Katzkin will be providing a state-of-the-art kiosk within each franchise store -- an industry first that provides a physical touch and feel leather sample as well as immediate access to the company’s “VIS” vehicle interior selector, with more than 500 pre-designs for over 1,000 vehicle patterns, with the option of Heated & “now Cooling” seats. An initial soft roll-out will begin throughout Tint World stores in late April, including point-of-sale materials and detailed ordering information.

    According to Paul Pirro, Vice President of Dealer Operations for Tint World, both organizations provide quality and a distinctive reputation that goes well beyond industry standards. “Katzkin has long been regarded for its OEM and dealership work, and by teaming with Tint World, we can together open the doors to a burgeoning enthusiast audience that wants to create its own personalized ride experience.” With headquarters in Florida, the company began 32 years ago as a window tinting company and has grown into a full-service Automotive Styling Service Center. Tint World has a majority of franchises east of the Rockies with additional outlets in California and Texas. The company is currently building new stores in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

    Rockford Fosgate announced that the updated six-model Prime Series R1 subwoofer line for 2014, including 10- and 12-inch subs and four sealed enclosure options, are now shipping.

    “Rockford Fosgate Prime subwoofers provide high performance bass at an unbelievable value,” said Jake Braaten, Rockford Corp’s director of product development. “Our 2014 R1 models are a step up from its predecessors. They now work great in sealed and vented enclosures, have an integrated trim ring, and increased power handling of 200 watts RMS. PRIME woofers are the perfect first step into performance mobile audio.”

    The 2014 models are Klippel-verified and CES-2013 Compliant, and feature an aluminum curvilinear dust-cap to dissipate heat generated by the increased power handling as well as a solid stamped steel frame and integrated frame mounted compression terminals.

    Specifications for the R1S4-10 subwoofer include:

    • 10-inch
    • 4 Ohm
    • SVC
    • Mounting Depth: 4.4in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $59.99

    Specifications for the R1S4-12 subwoofer include:

    • 12-inch
    • 4 Ohm
    • SVC
    • Mounting Depth: 4.9in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $69.99

    Specifications for the R1-1X10 include:

    • Single 10in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions: H 12.2in. x W 15.9in. x L 12.1in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $129.99

    Specifications for the R1-2X10 include:

    • Dual 10in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions: H 12.2in. x W 30.1in. x L 12.1in.
    • 400 Watts RMS / 800 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $219.99

    Specifications for the R1-1X12 include:

    • Single 12in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions H 14.4in. x W 17.7in. x L 12.5in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $149.99

    Specifications for the R1-2X12 include:

    • Dual 12in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions: H: 14.4in. x W 34.1in. x L12.5in.
    • 400 Watts RMS / 800 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $249.99
    • Specifications and prices subject to change without notice.
    For more information on Rockford Corporation, please visit www.rockfordcorp.com.

    In less than a month, enthusiasts representing 16 countries will gather in the United States to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang.

    Groups from North America, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will carry their country flags to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas. The international celebration will be so large that Ford Motor Company and the Mustang Club of America will simultaneously hold it at two locations from April 16 through April 20, 2014. It is open to everyone, not just Mustang owners and MCA members.

    “Even though the Ford Mustang has not traditionally been offered globally, the passion for the first pony car is truly international,” said Ronald D. Bramlett, Mustang Club of America, executive director of the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration. “Enthusiasts from across the globe are planning to attend and share their personal Mustang stories. Some are even shipping their Mustang to the United States to drive their car as part of the milestone event.”

    Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway will give these enthusiasts an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. MCA has also organized “Pony Drives” so Mustang owners can travel in organized groups to each venue. Some international owners are planning to drive in those caravans.

    “The Ford Mustang has become a symbol of American culture,” said Steven Ling, Ford car marketing manager. “The hunger for this iconic car fueled Ford Motor Company’s decision to offer the 2015 Mustang globally for the first time. We’ll exhibit this new model at the twin events so fans from around the world can see them personally.”

    The original American pony car has been very popular, with more than nine million sold thus far. Since the Mustang was launched at the1964 World’s Fair in New York, it has become an important part of pop culture with more than 3,000 appearances in film and television, plus hundreds of musical references. The Mustang Club of America has chapters on every continent except Antarctica, with chapters and tens of thousands of members worldwide.

    From 1964 to 1973, Ford built almost three million Mustangs at their three U.S. plants. However, few realize that Mustangs were also built at Ford locations in Europe and Latin America. A handful of U.S.-built early Mustangs were even converted to right-hand drive at Ford's plant in Australia.

    The countries being represented at the celebration will include:

    • United States of America
    • Canada
    • Mexico
    • Brazil
    • Australia
    • New Zealand
    • Denmark
    • Sweden
    • Norway
    • Germany
    • France
    • Belgium
    • Switzerland
    • Holland
    • Italy 
    • United Kingdom

    Details continue to be finalized for the event. Information is continuously updated on a special website, http://www.mustang50thbirthdaycelebration.com/ and at the MCA website, http://www.mustang.org/.

    For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

    Good news, fellow marketers: Email is not dead.

    Indeed, the ROI for email is more than $40 per dollar spent, a return higher than any other marketing channel, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

    While email isn’t dead, one thing is clear: The email newsletter is a dinosaur. Emails that mimic print newsletters of yesteryear are bulky, lumbering and sometimes monstrous in size. But like the T-Rex’s stunted arms, the reach is tiny. These newsletters try to accomplish too much, and in the end, they do very little to drive results.

    Why email marketing needs to evolve:

    Our attention spans are shorter. The average adult’s attention span is down to just 8 seconds (That’s less than that of a goldfish.)

    Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232266.

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